Time for Kerala to look at Oriental Asia as a new source market: Xu Jing, UNWTO

The quantum Kerala Tourism’s success in the near future was going to be intrinsically linked to the state’s ability in tapping newer emerging source markets, especially in the north Asian market, United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Asia-Pacific regional director Xu Jing has said. He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of an ongoing annual executive training programme on ‘tourism policy and strategy’ of UNWTO in Trivandrum.

Xu Jing stressed that Kerala’s foray in European market had been phenomenal, however the major challenge staring the state tourism department was its ability to harness emerging source markets. He noted that there was a pressing need to “diversify” source markets, by ushering in not only “policy but product change” as well.  “I can’t believe why your land is not flooded with Asian tourists, the people from oriental Asia. I have already spoken to Kerala tourism secretary and the director here on conducting some technical seminars to provide information and to chalk out strategies to penetrate these emerging Asian markets,” he said.

He further argued that bilateral political issues were never a “big constraint” in driving tourism numbers. “The real issue is lack of awareness about the destination. Here you have fantastic food, and everything linked to gastronomy will be one of the attractions to any Chinese traveller besides Ayurveda,” he said. He added that newer itineraries were needed for travellers from North Asia, as Oriental Asians had different expectations from a destination, as compared to their European counterpart.

In recent years, Kerala tourism had undertaken serious attempts to further amplify its outreach in international markets. It is also a well-established fact that a handful of European countries have been pivotal in driving numbers to Kerala’s shores. However, despite similar offerings and competitive pricing, Kerala’s share of travellers from North Asia has been miniscule and much of it have been cornered by neighbouring Sri Lanka and Maldives. It is time to recalibrate the strategy to bring sizable numbers from Oriental Asia, as it will ensure that the state’s tourism is not overtly dependent on the European market. Also, it will create newer opportunities for businesses in the state.

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